Tag Archives: food

The problem with fantastic plans

Jeremy left today to go to Powell River for his uncle’s birthday.  We’d decided a while back that I would stay behind, do the market, hang with Mia and get some quality alone time in.  Sounds like a fantastic plan.  I think it was probably my plan.  Totally fantastic plan.  I often come up with these “fantastic” plans… plans that would be fantastic if everything went the way I imagined in my head.  I imagined a leisurely Friday harvest in dappled sunshine.  I imagined the perfectly clean vegetables in perfectly clean bins in the creek, waiting for me to wake up Saturday morning and load them in the perfectly dry truck.  I imagined coffee and cake.  I imagined knitting.  I think I always imagine knitting.

* Please realise that there is no cake, and there is rarely cake on Saturday mornings.  Also, please realise that the vegetables are NEVER perfectly clean, nor are the bins, and the truck is never either perfectly clean NOR dry.  I don’t know which set of elves was supposed to ensure the plan went off as I imagined, but they obviously didn’t get the memo, because…

There was no dappled sunshine.  That’s really where everything started to go wrong.  There was rain.  And not just pitter patter rain.  Torrential downpour rain that caused everyone I know to wake at midnight and question whether we were finally being invaded by whomever invades our nightmares.  This wasn’t an August rain.  This was a January rain.  Jer and I weren’t expecting a January rain in August.  The truck’s windows were all open.  The tailgate was down.  The hammock and pillow were out.  So were tools, and bins, and bikes, and boxes of canning, meticulously labelled.

Now don’t get me wrong… we needed the rain.  The veggies needed the rain, and Jer and I needed it.  It makes going away (both him this weekend, and the two of us together on Tuesday) WAY easier.  It makes the trees happy, and it makes our fellow islanders who were running low on water breathe a little easier.  It’s good for the birds and all of those other critters.  But it bloody well sucks for harvesting, and it sure made a big old mess.  The house is FULL of stuff in various stages of drying.  The truck is soaking wet, and will hopefully dry out before winter.  I changed my clothes 4 times today.  The first 3 sets are lying in a pile in the laundry room.  I kept thinking I was done harvesting, but the harvest just didn’t want to end… especially after Jer left.  Now I just hope that it doesn’t rain at the market tomorrow, because that really isn’t as much fun as… well… as the market in the sunshine.

 

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The juxtaposition between being a teacher on vacation and being a farmer

Summer  vacationMaking bouquets is a bit of an oxymoron around these parts… summer is the furthest thing from a vacation on a farm, especially with the growing season that we’ve been having.  As long as we keep everything watered (and by we, I mean Jeremy), which takes at least 3 hours a day, we are going to continue to have an incredible amount of food.  We’ve come to that part of the season where therThey're ripening!e’s hope for new spinach and radishes and turnips, but all of the delicious fruits and vegetables full of sugar are ripening too.  I could write an ode to the perfect tomato, but I won’t.  Maybe you should instead.

Anyways, about that vacation thing.  Sure, I take some time off in the summer.  I read lots (in the heat of the day), swim lots (in the heat of the day), and spend time with friends (often in the heat of the day).  But our alarm goes off at 6 am and I spend a lot of hours working.  I am not on summer vacation for at least 4 hours and often 6, every day.  Except, of course, for Pickathon.

Pickathon sails over a horse paddock

Pickathon IS my summer vacation.  It’s wheThis is what summer vacation looks liken I get to go away and reflect fondly on being a farmer and being a teacher, but when I don’t have to actually BE either of those things.  It’s a music festival outside of Portland, and I’ve been for the past 3 years.  I get to bask in the sun and swim in the river and listen to music and dance and sometimes even enjoy a mash pit.  I wasn’t sure I was going to get a summer vacation this year, but I did, and it was awesome.  I’m going to hold out hope that I can do it again next year, in the midst of my Master’s, but we’ll see…

Hungarian purple peperAnd, as is true with most vacations, coming home was one of the best parts.  My dahlias are starting to bloom, and EVERYTHING is ripe.  Beans, tomatoes, basil, onions, cucumbers, peppers, the endless zucchini.  We pickled zucchini today.  We have zucchini cake in our freezer and had zucchini pancakes with zucchini relish as a garnish the other day for dinner… so faStrawflower - helichrysumr we’ve stayed on top of our zucchini, but this is going to become increasingly difficult as we begin to experience a glut of other things, especially tomatoes.  We even had our first corn this week… but that might be a secret, because I don’t know if we have enough to share, so don’t tell.

But one of the other things about coming home from my summer vacation is just that… that I’m home, which means that my summer vacation is over (many of you know that Jeremy and I happen to go on a kayak trip every summer as well, but we do that together, so that’s OUR vacation… here I am strictly speaking about MY vacation… obviously).  Which, of course it isn’t… but it is.  There’s crazy things starting to happen outside, and the crickets are only a small part of it.  I can pretend to notice that the days aren’t getting shorter, or that the mornings don’t have a bit of a chill-factor to them, or that it’s AUGUST 10TH ALREADY.  I can pretend not to see pumpkins turning orange or apples starting to ripen… I can pretend a lot of things, but the quantity of things is starting to arrive at that precipitous place where I don’t know how much longer I can pretend for…

Finishing setting up

So in this moment, I’m going to go do more vacation things, like read my book (Flight Behaviour by Barbara Kingsolver) and knit socks.  Tonight I’ll do more farm things.  I am certainly NOT going to do school-year things like wash my feet or have a shower.  There really aren’t that many more days when I’m allowed to have feet that look the way mine do, and I’m going to take advantage of every single one of them that I have.

Shade sails at Pickathon

We posed!

It’s hard to weed with your eyes closed

I was lying in bed early this morning, wishing that I was sleeping, trying really hard not to think about how I don’t have a job for next year and failing miserably.  I decided, as I have many times in similar situations, that I really need to start meditating again.  I remembered the place I was in in the spring of 2008 and how 10 days of silence, attempting to clear my mind and feel everything in equanimity changed that place.  I remembered the peace and the feeling of satisfaction that spread through me.  So I sat up and spent 10 minutes trying to find that place… then I heard the coffee percolating downstairs and whatever clarity I was muddling towards vanished and was replaced with the fog that precedes my morning coffee.  So I got up and drank my coffee and forgot about meditating, and about not having a job for that matter.

I ended up in the garden, and wandered around aimlessly for a bit.  Jer was gone for the morning, and as I haven’t been around a lot lately, physically or mentally, I am not sure of the priorities.  I know that blueberries are to be dug, I know that everything is to be watered, I know that lots of things are to be seeded or transplanted, but I don’t know what or where or how to do it so that it doesn’t have to be done again.  So I sat down to weed the onions.  I pulled grass and buttercup and thistles and bindweed, and I did it slowly and peacefully (if one can call causing the death of many living plants peaceful).  I got dirt under my fingernails and between my toes and it made me feel better.  Not all better better, but some better.

I went to get a massage recently because my carpal tunnel, caused by treeplanting, compounded by knitting, revigorated by gardening has flared.  My massage therapist asked me what it feels like when I stop knitting and stop gardening.  I looked at her questioningly… stopped knitting?  Stopped?  Like took a break?  I knit when I read, when I play cards, when I’m sitting on the ferry.  Sometimes I knit at red lights.  Stop?  It made me think about whether I glorify the act of being busy, but I don’t think I do.  I choose to do slow things, like knitting and growing organic food.  I choose to sit on my bum and weed onions by hand.  I choose to do lots of things that keep me busy, but they’re meditative for me.  I don’t know if actual meditation – the kind I did in Bolivia, sitting still for an hour to clear my mind – is what I need.  I think I just need to get dirt under my fingernails every day.

Here’s some pictures.

The pictures pretty much tell the story of our lives lately – it’s been hot, so Jer jumped in the pond.  Some plants are doing well, but it’s hot and dry, so lots of others are struggling through.  The kale’s not so juicy, and the salad greens are confused.  We had our first farmer’s market of the year, but for a long variety of reasons we didn’t have many vegetables… so we made jam.  Frogs are filling up the pond, and that’s about all of the exciting details!

Perfect Christmas break

Happy New Years, Merry Christmas, and what a lovely, lovely holiday.  Jer, Mia and I spent almost a week in Tofino with my mom and stepdad over Christmas.  It was the absolute perfect vacation.  I find it difficult to sit and read or knit for more than half an hour or so at a time when I’m home as there are always a million things to do – chop some wood, stack some wood, plant some bulbs, braid some garlic, do some dishes, ask Jeremy to do some dishes, sweep, mop, dust, sweep, mark student work, weed, plant, harvest and on and on and on.  But Tofino’s not like that.  Sure, there are things to do.  Like walk on the beach with my dog.  And eat food.  And put dishes into the DISHWASHER (Jer’s my dishwasher, but he doesn’t like it when I put dishes in him).  And snuggle my dog.  And read, and knit, and do crossword puzzles, and knit, and knit.  I got to knit and read for hours at a time and I didn’t feel guilty about it.  Ever.  Vacations should always be about having time to read and knit and not feel guilty.  That should be their purpose.

Speaking of which, I bought over 5000 yards of yarn today to knit with.  That’s a lot of knitting.  I dreamed about knitting last night.  This break is also about finishing projects, especially ones that have been sitting for months.  2 pairs of socks and 2 sweaters.  Awesome.

Vacations should also be about friends.  We had 5 come and spend New Years with us.  We had a fire and roasted marshmallows and a certain 5 year old became covered in sticky goo.  He had it in his (long curly) hair.  I thought Mia had rubbed up against a sappy tree.  But really, she’d just rubbed against a sticky boy.

Vacations should also be about getting some things done.  We rearranged some furniture, tapped our maple trees, and did some firewood for next year.  Tomorrow is the beginning of the weekend, and I’m ready.  Perfect Christmas break.

Dusty Road Craft Collective

It was the Denman Island Craft Faire this weekend.  Jer and I participated in the Faire a couple of years ago, when we first arrived, and didn’t really understand the caliber of the Faire.  Last year I was too busy knitting sweaters for loved ones to knit small, sellable items for strangers, so we abstained.  Our dog chased our neighbours cat up a tree...This year we decided to share a table with our most loveliest of neighbours, and it was awesome.  Our table was overflowing with beautiful things at the beginning of the weekend, and was pretty sparse by the end.  Cutting boards, pizza peels, mustard, oat cakes, biscotti, sundried tomatoes, chickens, bags, purses, clutches, knitting, stuffed owls.  We had.  All of it.  And we did it with friends and we were successful, and I felt validated as a crafter.  Awesome.  AND our neighbours were still willing to sit at a table with us and sell our things after our dog chased their new-to-them cat up a tree.  He came back down all by himself.  We did apologize…

Freebie snow day walk with my dogPlus it snowed.  And I got a snow day.  The Friday before the Faire, someone decided to grant me the freebiest of freebie days.  I’m pretty lucky.

Pizza peels   Booth #9!

Owl clutches, cutting boards...

Stuffed owls!

I’m BACK!

Somehow blogging became a chore.  I don’t know exactly how it happened, but I know it had something to do with pictures, and how much I hate uploading photos, editing them, sorting them, and so on.  So blogging became a chore, and I got frustrated with it, and I said “bugger off”.  But I think I’m done with that now, and may be back.  Maybe not, but I think so.

We ate Ponyboy for dinner tonight.

I don’t know what else there is to say about that.

We got a new rooster.  His name was Foghorn Leghorn.  We ate him tonight too because we got another new rooster.  His name is Puss’n’boots.  Mostly just Boots.  He’s orange, and he has feather boots.

One of my very best friends, and one of the very first friends I made on the West Coast had a baby last week.  I made him a blanket.  It’s orange, just like I was when I met the friend.  The blanket is lovely organic cotton, and the munchkin looks adorable.  I can’t wait to meet him.

I love my school and I never want to leave.  I’m knitting like crazy for the craft fair.  I bought new boots and I love them.

That’s all for now.  Until next time!

What people do for fun

The lovely folks at Sandstone Farm, who grew the wool for Jeremy’s sweater, have hosted an island garlic taste-off 3 years running.  We were lucky enough to get invited this year, with our garlic and our fine selves.  There were 11different garlic being sampled over the course of the evening, all raw.  Today we were all stinky and smelly, although I didn’t feel as disgusting as I thought I might.  Jer’s brother came to the tasting with us, and it was one of my favourite evenings of the entire summer.  Good (and less good) wine, awesome people, and fantastic food – garlic and otherwise.

Pre-tasting treat

Blind taste-test

Nibble

Smells like? Very scientific

Last garlic of the night - simmered in wine, covered in chocolate.  Delicious!Our garlic, by the way, came in 3rd place.  It may have fared better had Jer and I not scored it so low… it was the most powerful of all, and pretty much knocked your socks off.  I’m really happy that we didn’t have one of the sissy garlics, and am actually quite proud of this one, even if it wasn’t my favourite.