Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Worth a Thousand Words

Blogger has again informed me that I cannot upload any more photos to the blog here.  So instead of posting a picture I will have to settle for writing 1,000 words.  Usually, if I wait a few days, blogger forgets what it said and again allows me to post pictures.  In the meantime...

What have I been up to lately?  Obviously, I haven't been online much.  We went to Ohio.  We arrived in the aftermath of a 'straight hurricane' which recorded 65 mph winds with gusts up to 85 mph.  Really. There were downed trees, wires and branches everywhere.  Our daughter had no electricty for a week.  Since we had already made arrangements to travel to the Chicago area, we lived without power until the morning of the 5th and then escaped to The Professor's brother's lovely home for four days.  Upon arriving back in Ohio, the power had finally been restored.  Yay!  Lovely days of playing Legos with our Big Boy, reading books and perusing maps with him, and taking him to a very large arboretum to run around took up the rest of the visit 'back east'.

Now we are home at Willow's Cottage.  Unsurprisingly, the garden grew.  No one took us up on the offer to eat our ripe cherry tomatoes so we have an abundance.  Inside, the horizontal surfaces gathered dust.  We are back to our summer home routine.  Gardening, reading, biking, a little dusting.  We did have a lovely two day visit with a friend from our days in inner city Los Angeles.  Mostly, we've just hung out.

Saturday was our wedding anniversary.  To celebrate, we took our bikes to Monecito and rode to Santa Barbara and back.  Thirteen and a half miles for me.  Along the Pacific Ocean and through lovely diginified neighborhoods and past the Biltmore Hotel.  A most lovely day.  Even a short stop at Costco didn't dampen our spirits.

What has been going on in my head recently?  If you know me at all, you know that I am passionate about sustainable gardening and healthy eating.  Joel Salatin's book Folks, this ain't normal has been challenging my thinking even more.  I am convinced that Salatin's advice on farming is desperately needed and absolutely right on.  Go read it!  And let me know what you think.  As Salatin says, you don't have to agree, but it's good to learn and understand what other people think.  The book has sparked conversations with The Professor and other close family members.  It has made me look again at my little garden and caused me to try to figure out how to be even more interactive in 'normal gardening and eating'. 

You know, I always have been a bit of a crunchy granola earth mama, and I come by my gardening roots naturally.  Both of my parents come from a long line of farmers.  My dad grew up on a dairy farm.  Of course, he left as soon as he was old enough and took off for Seattle to work in a Boeing plant making airplanes before he joined the US Army Air Force in WWII.  He didn't like milking cows.  And truth be told, he didn't much like being the youngest of three boys and having to do all the grubby jobs and then getting drafted to help in the kitchen.  He did however end up being a rather excellent cook (he made the BEST gravy in the world), and during the time he had a home, he always put in a wonderful vegetable garden.  My mom's family left their Iowa farm in the late 1920s to move to the Pacific Northwest, following the rest of their family who had made that move a few years earlier.  So my mom cut her farm roots and became a city girl.  But my grandma still gardened until she was well into her 80s.  I remember helping with the weeding.  I loved it then, and I still love it.  Wherever I've lived, I've always had a garden.

Oh, another thing Salatin writes about is cooking.  Cooking with real food.  Wow, I loved that chapter!  The Professor and I eat simply.  But our food is real.  Very little processed food makes it in to our house.  All four of my kids knew how to cook when they left home for college.  And all of them still cook regularly.  Even the boys (now men) can bake bread and make pies.  The girls (now women) are elegant and competent cooks and know how to make soup from scratch.  Their attitude is 'doesn't everybody know that?'  Last year, I sent Son #2 out to the garden to pick parsley for soup, and he commented that most of his friends would have no idea what a parsley plant looked like.  Tomatoes grow on plants not in baskets or cans.

And we compost.  I think we're the only people in our neighborhood who own a compost bin.

Last night, The Professor and I sat down and watched a video.  It's called Seeds of Freedom.  Here's the link to the vimeo thirty minute movie:  http://vimeo.com/43879272.  Go watch it!  And then tell me what you think!

On the fiber front, I've finished a lovely white cotton Liesl sweater.  This is the third sweater I've made with this pattern and I still love it.  Now I'm on to a rather large project which I began last November.  I am knitting Christmas stockings for everyone in the family.  Three are done and I'm working on the fourth sock.  Each one is unique because every person got to choose colors, style and motifs.  I bought Kristin Nicholas's Christmas Stockings pattern.  If you click on the link, scroll down to see the pattern.  Sad;y, the weaving loom languishes.  I think I'm just not a weaver.

I don't think this post is quite a thousand words; more like nine hundred.  But it's close.  However, I hope that you are still reading and still interested.  Now I'm off to read and read more, knit and knit more, and maybe wander back to my garden to pick lettuce for dinner.

What have you all been doing?


Reflection Through The Seasons said...

Hello Willow. What an interesting read.

I agree, these blips in today's technology so often allow us to get back to basics and enjoy those timeless pleasures of years gone by.

I would have loved to take advantage of your offer to pick tomatoes. Your growing season is way ahead of ours. This year in particular... it has been so cold and wet that our tomatoes are only just in flower and that's with the protection of the greenhouse. The veggie beds are slow too, pea pods are just starting to fill out and not a sign of any beans yet. John dug our first meal of potatoes last week... Charlotte salad - quite delicious.

I think with many of us, interests in gardening, knitting, sewing etc. are inherited from parents or grandparents. My father nurtured my appreciation and love of the countryside and taught me much about nature, leaving me with precious childhood memories that are evoked immediately I see or smell bluebells, honeysuckle and roses.

Our dreadful weather has put me so far behind with work in the garden, all to do with the jet stream being too far south they say. If that hasn't been bad enough I twisted my ankle and broke a bone last week in a fall down steps out in the backyard... I'm now in a plaster cast from toes to knee, so the next six weeks are wiped out too.
Nice catching up with you.
Marion - Wales UK.

Bethany said...

We have so much in common! Both sets of my grandparents gardened, with two grandparents on either side coming from the farm. And my Dad worked for GE designing jet engines most of his life. My mom gardens every year no matter where she lives. I was just telling my kids that it is really amazing to think that most people we know don't know where any of their food is actually grown or the people who grow it, where as we know exactly who grows and raises 90% of what we eat! I agree with Joel Salatin and we try to support farmers who are doing the right things. There is a reason that the amount of diseases has drastically risen over these last 70 years or so-- processed and preservative filled food grown in a sea of chemicals. Who could be healthy on that? Plus we've drastically lost our varieties and will continue to, if we don't stop GMO seeds! We need to eat the food God gave us.

Marg said...

I enjoyed this article and could relate to so many of the rooted topics in your life. Too this day, I love to cook from scratch..and grow a garden to teach my grandsons where the food actually comes from. My latest recipe is making home made potatoe chips...yummy and knowing that the boys helped plant those potatoes,and I love watching them dig them...and then washing the fresh produce. I,ve got some who can totally make a pie crust from scratch and a salad straight from the garden using herbs to bring that extra flavor to the Salad avoiding any store bought dressings. Very interesting for me to see how many things we have in common..

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

Happy belated anniversary, Willow!

I have very little garden space but I always have to grow tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and herbs every summer!

I've had to pay Google for extra photo space on Picasa for my blog for a couple of years now. It is $20 a year --not too bad considering I back all my photos up on their "cloud."

Kiti said...

I'm finally learning to garden, and it's a trial-and-error task for me. I'll get there.

I must protest, however, that Willow has not provided full disclosure in describing her children's culinary ability. It is true that all of her offspring are more than competent in the kitchen and can cook from scratch almost anything, but it's only fair to state that the BEST COOK in the family is Son #1, who bakes the best pies and tarts I have ever tasted and does a crock pot roast that even I, nearly complete vegetarian, find meltingly delicious.